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Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 or wait for the Z Flip 6?

YouTube Flex mode features on Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5.
Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

Foldable and flippable smartphones have been coming into their own over the past year. We now have more fun options than ever before, but as the veteran of folding phones, Samsung’s options still lead the pack in many ways.

That’s especially true for the Galaxy Z Flip series, which reached its prime two years ago with the Galaxy Z Flip 4 and has been on a roll ever since. Last year’s Galaxy Z Flip 5 was hands-down the best flip phone for most folks, and we’re expecting similarly great things from this year’s successor.

However, if you’ve been considering a foldable phone, we’re at that awkward time of year when it’s a tough call. The Galaxy Z Flip 5 is undoubtedly a great device, but the Galaxy Z Flip 6 is also right around the corner. Is it worth picking up the 2023 model, or should you wait to see what this year’s flagship flip phone will offer? Let’s take a look at what we can expect from the Galaxy Z Flip 6, at least according to the rumor mill.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 6 vs. Z Flip 5: design

A person using the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Last year’s Galaxy Z Flip 5 improved upon its 2022 predecessor in two significant areas: the hinge and the cover screen. These may seem like minor improvements, but combined, they give Samsung’s latest flip phone a much nicer fit and finish.

Samsung’s new “Flex Hinge” eliminated the gap from previous models, such that when the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is folded closed, it feels properly shut. That looks nicer and gives the device a more solid feel overall, but it also shaves 2mm off its thickness when folded. The new hinge is also quieter and smoother yet still holds its position when you want to prop the phone up. Overall, it feels better in every way, especially when combined with the excellent overall build quality.

Leaked render of Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 6.
Galaxy Z Flip 6 leak SmartPrix and OnLeaks

We’re not anticipating any big changes to the hinge on the Galaxy Z Flip 6, but that’s fine, as we don’t think any are needed. Samsung nailed this one last year, and it’s hard to improve upon near perfection. However, Samsung may build on the other significant improvement from last year by making the cover screen even bigger. More on that in a moment.

The Galaxy Z Flip 6 will undoubtedly sport some new colors, so it may be worth waiting to see what Samsung will have to offer if you’re not a fan of the Galaxy Z Flip 5’s palette. Leaks say we can expect Light Blue, Mint, Silver Shadow, Yellow, Crafted Black, Peach, and White, with the last three likely being the usual Samsung exclusives. Sadly, there’s no indication that we’ll see a return of the Z Flip 4’s fun Bespoke Studio.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 6 vs. Z Flip 5: display

Google Maps on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The Galaxy Z Flip 5 expanded the cover screen to a far more useful size than the previous model, as it sports a new 3.4-inch Super AMOLED panel. While we’re not expecting anything quite that dramatic for the Z Flip 6, some reliable reports say the cover display could grow to 3.9 inches. However, that information conflicts with some of the renders we’ve seen, so it could go either way. Nevertheless, while any size increase is nice, we don’t think 0.5 inches is a deal breaker, especially if that’s the only change.

Even if it grows in size, the screen’s design won’t change much, and we’ve heard no news about any improvements in resolution or refresh rate. The Galaxy Z Flip 5 has a 720 x 748 panel with a 60Hz refresh rate. Samsung might surprise us here, but it’s much more likely the Galaxy Z Flip 6 will have roughly the same specs as the Galaxy Z Flip 5.

That will leave it behind competitors like Motorola, but we’re not convinced a 144Hz refresh rate is truly necessary on a flip phone’s smaller cover screen. It’s what’s inside that counts here, and the Galaxy Z Flip 5 has a gorgeous 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display that the Z Flip 6 will undoubtedly inherit.

The open Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Samsung may continue its trend toward brighter screens — the Galaxy Z Flip 5 gained 550 nits over the Z Flip 4 — but the display specs are expected to be the same otherwise. Plus, at 1,750 nits, the inside display of the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is already plenty bright; we’ve certainly had no problems seeing it on even the sunniest summer days.

It remains to be seen whether Samsung will finally be able to eliminate the crease. There are reports of Samsung Display trademarking a new “Ironflex” foldable OLED technology, but that might be more about durability and dust resistance.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 6 vs. Z Flip 5: performance and battery

Samsung logo on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Samsung typically puts each year’s best Qualcomm silicon into the North American versions of its Galaxy S-series and Z-series flagships. While most reports expect that to continue, the smartphone maker might throw us a curveball this year.

The flagship trio of Galaxy S23 models received a custom “for Galaxy” version of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, which later came to the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Galaxy Z Flip 5. Only the “Fan Edition” Galaxy S23 FE used an older Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip. This year’s Galaxy S24 lineup welcomed the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 to North American shores, but there’s a slight possibility the Galaxy Z Flip 6 could go in a different direction.

An April report from SamMobile revealed that Samsung is testing the Z Flip 6 with last year’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, although it also appears to have boosted it to 12GB of RAM rather than the 8GB that’s standard for Samsung’s Z Flip series.

A person folding up the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

This might be a reasonable compromise given the higher RAM and considering that the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is still a very capable chip. The Z Flip is also more of a flagship for its design than its performance specs. However, it’s also possible that this could be an alternative model for specific markets, allowing Samsung to use Snapdragon chips across the board rather than selling Exynos-powered versions internationally.

The Galaxy Z Flip 6 could see a nice boost in battery life over the current model, with some reports indicating it will get a 4,000mAh cell. That’s not a huge increase over the 3,700mAh battery in the Z Flip 5, but it could be enough to tilt the balance, particularly if Samsung has found other ways to improve power efficiency. The Galaxy Z Flip 5 absolutely needs to hit a charger every night — you’ll be in the red zone after even a day of moderate use. While we don’t expect the Z Flip 6 to move that needle too much, it may at least reach the point where you can confidently get all-day battery life without fear of running the tank dry on busier days.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 6 vs. Z Flip 5: cameras

Close-up view of the cameras on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

If you’re hoping this year’s Galaxy Z Flip 6 will gain a telephoto lens, we have disappointing news. Every report and render we’ve seen suggests that it will sport the same type of dual camera array found on the Galaxy Z Flip 5.

However, that doesn’t mean we won’t see some improvements. The best information available right now suggests that the primary sensor will get an upgrade to 50 megapixels (MP). That’s not only a healthy boost over the 12MP found on the current model, but it’s also likely that Samsung will take advantage of the higher resolution to add the same pseudo-optical zoom capabilities it brought to the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S24 models by using the 12.5 million pixels in the center of the sensor to produce a 2x image.

That won’t match a proper 3x telephoto lens, but it should definitely be an improvement over digitally zooming from a 12MP sensor. There’s no word on whether Samsung will improve the specs on its ultrawide or selfie cameras from the 12MP and 10MP versions on the Galaxy Z Flip 5.

Nevertheless, last year’s Galaxy Z Flip 5 delivered some noticeable image processing improvements over the Z Flip 4, and we expect the Galaxy Z Flip 6 will follow suit, especially if it gets the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip with its better image signal processor (ISP). The Galaxy Z Flip 5 is no slouch in the camera department, though, and it delivers the kind of vibrant and rich images you’d expect from a Samsung phone.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 6 vs. Z Flip 5: software and updates

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 resting on top of succulents, with its cover display on.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Samsung’s Z-series phones always come out just before each year’s major Android releases. The Galaxy Z Flip 5 shipped in August 2023 with Android 13 and Samsung’s One UI 5 layered on top, although it’s since received Android 14 and One UI 6.

That’s likely where the Galaxy Z Flip 6 will land, with an Android 15 and One UI 7 update showing up later in the year. However, this year, Samsung matched Google with a seven-year update promise for its Galaxy S24 series, and there’s every reason to believe the Galaxy Z Flip 6 will benefit from this as well.

That alone will give the phone more longevity. The Galaxy Z Flip 5 will only receive four Android updates, and it got its first of those only a few weeks after release, which means the end of the road will be Android 17. The Galaxy Z Flip 6 will likely be in the same boat in getting its first update this fall, but a seven-year promise will take it to Android 21.

Since the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is already running One UI 6, we’re not expecting too many new software features in the Galaxy Z Flip 6, at least not right away. Samsung will likely introduce it with One UI 6.2, an update we’re hoping will make it easier for everyday users to customize the cover screen without jumping through hoops. However, since that’s a software feature, it would likely also trickle down to the Galaxy Z Flip 5.

When is the Galaxy Z Flip 6 coming out?

Leaked render of Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 6.
SmartPrix and OnLeaks

Samsung’s Z series phones typically arrive at a midsummer Galaxy Unpacked event. This year is no exception, but we may see the Galaxy Z Flip 6 show up sooner than usual.

While the last three Z Flip models arrived in August, Samsung is reportedly changing its playbook this year by holding Galaxy Unpacked on July 10 in Paris (rather than Seoul). We can thank the 2024 Olympics for that since Samsung is one of the sponsors and undoubtedly wants to use that to its advantage while also getting its products announced and released before we’re all distracted by the Summer Games, which kick off on July 26.

That’s good news, as we won’t have to wait much longer to see what the Galaxy Z Flip 6 has to offer. However, there’s also one piece of bad news in the mix: the Galaxy Z Flip 6 is expected to be more expensive. Recent reports suggest a $100 price increase over the Galaxy Z Flip 5, with the base 256GB model starting at $1,100. We shouldn’t be too surprised, as that’s par for the course with most smartphones in today’s economy, but it could be another reason to opt for the Galaxy Z Flip 5 instead, especially since it’s likely to see a price drop once its successor hits the market.

Jesse Hollington
Jesse has been a technology enthusiast for his entire life — he probably would have been born with an iPhone in his hand…
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